Learning and Teaching Investment Fund 2012

Summary of projects

Project title

Learning and Teaching in the Swanston Academic Building

Project leader

Dr Cathy Hall

Project team

  • Dr Tom Palaskas
  • Carmelo Ortuso

Project summary

The purpose of the SAB PD Program was to facilitate a smooth transition of academic and teaching staff in the College of Business to the SAB learning spaces in order to maximise the potential of their innovative design. Many of the learning spaces in the SAB extended the learning and teaching possibilities then available to the College of Business. The challenge faced by the ADG team was to provide opportunities for teaching staff to develop understanding and skills so that they and their students gained maximum benefit from the use of these settings.

A review of the literature on new learning spaces indicated that the SAB project was unique in a number of ways. Firstly, the scale of the transition was unprecedented, involving an entire college with hundreds of academics and teaching staff representing numerous discipline areas. Secondly, the number, physical configuration, and technology inclusions of the learning spaces was so varied that the potential existed for a wide range of effective pedagogical approaches. Mapping this diversity of potential teaching practice with the variety of prospective PD participants and stakeholders resulted in a project with unusual complexity in its planning and execution.

To meet this challenge, the ADG team designed the PD program with a timely, flexible and adaptive approach. The SAB Professional Development Reference Group played an important role in ensuring that the emerging program design anticipated or at least kept pace with identified staff needs and perceptions. The program was designed to deliver the necessary knowledge and skills before the move to SAB, originally scheduled for Semester 1 in 2013, but later brought forward to Semester 2, 2012.

  • Timeliness was important because knowledge transfer had to occur systematically, well before staff moved to the new building. Long (2009) considers that the timing of professional development is a key factor in transitioning staff to enhanced learning spaces. He states, “What absolutely cannot happen regarding professional development for these spaces is to wait until they are built”. At the same time it was important to recognise that “Just in Time” and “Just for Me” development activities are usually the most effective.
  • Flexibility in the types of PD provided was necessary. Pedagogical affordances provided by the spaces can be applied to a variety of learning and teaching scenarios. So the program needed to include and advocate for a range of potential pedagogies.
  • Multiple approaches were required to meet the learning needs and preferences of academics and teaching staff. (Diaz et al. 2009; Pedder, Storey & Opfer 2008; Long 2009).

The program was designed and implemented in a carefully paced series of interventions, with resources and publications released at regular intervals. The frequency of interventions increased from the monthly sessions which commenced early in early semester 1, 2012 to the daily “walk-though’ sessions in the week prior to occupation in July 2012.


New generation learning spaces are arenas for innovative teaching practices that may be unfamiliar to those who have taught in more traditional classrooms in which students occupy a physically subordinate space, where a teachers’ station separates the ‘conveyer’ and the ‘receivers’ of knowledge.

This project supported the design and implementation of professional development for academic and teaching staff from the College of Business in semester 1, 2012. The purpose was to facilitate a smooth transition of academic and teaching staff to the SAB’s new generation learning spaces in order to maximise the potential of their innovative design. Activity and feedback received to date indicate the achievement of the initial project purpose.

Two evaluative booklets have been produced during the course of the project. The first is a targetted literature review focussed on teaching practice in new generation learning spaces, and the second describes the activities undertaken during the project.

  • Conference Presentation, Hall C and Palaskas T, Transition To New Learning Spaces: A Change Management Approach ICERI, Madrid, November 2012
  • Contribution of an abstract for a book chapter
  • Conference paper - Transition by Design - submitted to HERDSA 2013

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